Arguing that child sex abuse victims should be allowed to pursue legal recourse on their own time, and not some arbitrary time set in law, a group of Minnesota lawmakers and advocates proposed lifting the state's current statute of limitations on civil suits related to this form of abuse.
Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park and House Reps. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) and Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) were scheduled to make the announcement with child victim advocates at a 1 p.m. press conference Wednesday. Through legislation and legal opinions, Minnesota currently requires victims of child sex abuse to pursue any civil legal claims within six years of their 18th birthday.
Advocates made their argument to lift that time limit in part based on the prevalence of people who now say they were abused as children. Minnesota's first-ever child adverse events report, which was released last month, showed that 10 percent of adults in the state reported some form of sexual abuse in their childhoods.
"We all know that it takes years if not decades before victims feel comfortable coming forward," said Darin Broton, a spokesman for the advocacy groups behind the legislation.
Opponents to the loosening of such statutes of limitations nationwide include the Catholic Church, according to a recent report by the New York Times. They worry about a wave of previously outdated claims coming forward and financially overwhelming or even bankrupting organizations accused of being complicit in any abuse.
Minnesota lawmakers have considered this issue before, and discussed creating a one or two year window in which abuse victims with outdated claims could file them. The current bill as proposed would be much broader in that it would simply eliminate any such deadlines.